Thursday, June 30, 2011

Really? REALLY?!

I try, heaven knows I try not to heap blame upon our human heads for the increasingly depressing state of the planet. I was reminded (yet again) to avoid this when visiting two sites recently, one that talked about the vanishing frogs and other about the vanished thylacine.  Insulted readers left these comments:

"I wonder if you realize how toxic and polarizing the terms 'spread by human activities' is? I am not arguing whether this is factual or not in this instance. I am noting that I have an immediate and visceral response to this statement. Why is it so important that any environmental problem has to be given a heaping dose of guilt for it to be valid?"  
"Yes, the killing of this entire thylacine species is the fault of humans, but I'm sick of hearing about how awful humans are every time we discuss something that went extinct at the same time we existed."

Okay, people hate being guilt-tripped, and pointing out that you-know-who is once again responsible for some planetary calamity can harm rather than help the cause. Fine, I get it.

But then I hear that six astronauts had to jump into their escape "lifeboat" capsules on Tuesday, because a piece of space junk came dangerously close to colliding with the International Space Station. And it turns out this is not unusual: "It is not the first time space station crews have scrambled for shelter from accumulated space junk. Crews are routinely put on alert to prepare to move out of harm’s way."

Space: the final frontier for us to trash
And just what is that space junk?: "Only 10% of all objects in Earth’s orbit are satellites, while the rest is trash: spent rocket stages, defunct satellites, acceleration blocks and other debris ... The minefield of space debris is a growing hazard with ever more satellites in orbit, and one of the most important challenges of future orbital ventures, industry expert Vladimir Gubarev told Reuters."

Says The New York Times: "Since the first artificial satellite, Sputnik 1, was launched in 1957, the space neighborhood has become cluttered with human-made detritus--more than half a million pieces, by recent estimates, from the size of a marble on up. If the orbits of two intersect, the result can be a destructive collision. 'It's getting kind of dangerous,' said Jonathan McDowell, an astrophysicist at the Harvard-Smithosonian Center for Astrophysics who has become an expert on space debris."

And I end up with my head in my hands, making those weird chuckling sounds that are the frayed ends of laughter. Really? Really? An entire FREAKING PLANET to pollute was not enough for us? We also had to discard so much litter into space that astronauts are now having to dodge it?

What can be done with a species like this?


  1. Susan Landis-StewardJune 30, 2011 at 2:27 AM

    Oh, and how do you know it was us that left all that stuff in outer space? What about the aliens? They could have done it. Yeah. That's it. The aliens did it.  And just be glad your publisher, who reluctantly does a few books for you Luddites, uses recycled paper and stuff.

  2. Have you ever read Alan Weisman's "The World Without Us"-- It's an excellent read because it dispatches with humans on the first page. Poof, just like that our bleak, polluting, criminally selfish species is gone. Then he goes about explaining how long it will take for the earth to recover after our long and heartless reign. 

  3. It's ok, Pat.  We'll breed ourselves into extinction in the next century or so and nature will carry on as always.

  4. I'm not a tree-hugger.  If God hadn't wanted us to decimate our forests, he wouldn't have made them so handy.  When may I have MY books?

  5. Oh, I just changed my mind about the perfect death.  I used to opt for defenestration because it's such fun to say, but seriously, I'd rather be taken out by a chunk of orbital debris while I'm sitting, knitting and telling dirty jokes in the sunroom of my nursing home.

  6. Amen Amen!  It's enough to make Edvard Munch scream----  

  7. No need to do anything with a species like this. We'll do it to ourselves. Yes, we'll probably take out a few others while we're at it, and no doubt we'll have a huge impact on the earth. But the earth will recover. It will find a way to heal itself and be here long after humanity has become a forgotten memory in the grand scope of the universe.

  8. I don't really see it as guilt or whatever - just actions and consequences.  Think about those consequences. But if guilt helps you to take action, then by all means feel guilty :)

  9. Gal, did you stir up a fire storm! (though some must be tongue-in-cheek.) I bought and started reading The World Without Us and but couldn't finish it as it was so depressing.  I've wondered about the debris we leave floating in space and the effect it will have on space travel and exploration.  Mother  Earth will have to get tough and tell us to pick up after ourselves.  The only good thought is that after our extinction, the earth will recover.  New species will evolve and life will go on. 

  10. I just had to chuckle about them abandoning their space ship ... like they weren't going very far away.

  11. I've read it - it's great! I felt happier and happier as I read through it. Not anywhere near as long to recover as I had feared. We need the earth; it doesn't need us :)